Mikaelle Cartright has a voice that’s like tropical silk. The New York-born, singer-songwriter has a jazzy style that recalls the styles of singers like Anita Baker with a little hint of Shirley Bassey. How did she develop her jazzy style? What role do her parents play in her support system as a singer-songwriter? Read on to find out.
Kreyolicious: Your name is Mikaelle, no doubt stemming from the name Michael, which means Who Can Be Like God? What is the most extraordinary thing that’s happened to your life that has had you saying the same phrase?
Mikaelle Cartright: Correct, my name means “Who is like God”. My existence causes me to ask that constantly. My birth was a miracle. My mother almost lost me. She was placed on bed rest somewhere around the fourth month. The muscles of her uterus were giving out and the doctor said I was going to just fall out. The medication, some hormone treatment, was barely available and when Baby Doc fell, it was chaos. My mother was, thank God, able to leave and go have me in New York where much of her family still lived. She received the proper care and boom, there I came, healthy and obviously, alive.
Kreyolicious: What was your childhood like? Did you have musical tendencies crawling in early on?
Mikaelle Cartright: My childhood was filled with music. We were home-schooled, in English, in Haiti… At home we always had grandpa’s old record player going. From Bach, to Mozart, to Chopin, Schwarz, and Tchaikovsky there was always something classical on thanks to Big sis Jamie, who went on to study Opera. But when my brother Chris and I got a chance to pick, it would be instrumental jazz standards, or 60s pop tunes.
All if us loved music growing up. I was 10 when I sang a solo with my papa in church; 11 when I joined the choir. It all came very naturally. My dad played guitar and my mom led the choir. Totally natural, and we all got the bug. Did I mention my brother plays guitar and has written some of the most incredible rock songs ever?
Kreyolicious: Your parents have been supportive in your journey as a musical creative?
Mikaelle Cartright: Yah, mostly. So long as I am not raunchy or loose, they’re down. My mom has some unreasonable expectations, but that’s to be expected. She’s a pastor. I think my dad has given up on me. He doesn’t even know what I’m doing anymore.
Kreyolicious: You have such a jazzy style. What made you take up singing?
Mikaelle Cartright: Well everything I just said, plus, by the time I went to college, I had already started playing guitar…and while I was there I did a lot of open Mic nights. A friend of mine caught wind of that, and invited me to join a singers’ troupe planning shows for a local theater. I was with them almost two years. We did all kinds of styles of music, but the one that stuck most was the Jazz. Ever since 18 years old, I’ve been a fanatic. It changed everything about the music in me. It released everything you hear me doing today.
Kreyolicious: Were you taken by any singers growing up? What did you admire them?
Mikaelle Cartright: Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton, Bryan Adams, Boys II Men, Dru Hill, Luther Vandross and Usher. I grew up on them…They were there every night on Sweet FM. I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music so I snuck a radio in my bed every night and would listen till 1, 2 even 3 am…no one ever knew why I was so tired…Their voices were iconic. I knew that if I could sing like them, I’d be really good.
Later on, I went more toward soft rock/alternative and soul, listening, in depth, to John Mayer, Coldplay and India Arie. Those three are the reason I write music and aspire to creating beautiful songs that will lift people’s spirits. After all, they were my emotional anchors for so many years.
Kreyolicious: As a woman and singer, when do you feel the most beautiful?
Mikaelle Cartright: When my voice is bangin’.
This concludes PART I of the interview with Mikaelle Cartright. Meanwhile…
Visit the singer’s Youtube Channel |